This appendix outlines the full statement of task that Congress requested the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) ad hoc committee responsible for this report to complete. It also outlines the roles and responsibilities of the National Science Foundation (NSF) and NAS in the project and describes how these responsibilities align with their broader mandates. The report was mandated under the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010.
The Charge from Congress
An ad hoc committee will review and evaluate the Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) and EPSCoR-like programs of seven federal agencies: Department of Defense, Department of Energy, National Aeronautical and Space Administration, National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, Department of Agriculture, and the Environmental Protection Agency. The committee will evaluate the management and effectiveness of the programs in achieving their goals; explore how well they are integrated with other activities and initiatives of the respective agencies; and assess how well the overall efforts align with the larger federal mission of nurturing the health and productivity of the nation’s scientific and engineering research enterprise.
The Responsibilities of the National Science Foundation
This study was mandated by the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010, which specifies the following NSF responsibilities:
A. Coordinate EPSCoR and other EPSCoR-like programs to maximize the impact of Federal support for building competitive research infrastructure in efforts to achieve an integrated Federal effort;
B. Coordinate agency objectives with jurisdictional and institutional goals in efforts to obtain continued non-Federal support of science and technology research and training;
C. Develop metrics to assess gains in academic research quality and competitiveness in science and technology human resource development;
D. Conduct a cross-agency evaluation of EPSCoR and EPSCoR-like programs and their accomplishments. This evaluation will include, but not be limited to, program management, investment strategies and their effectiveness in building research capacity, and the effectiveness of strategies to increase the number of new investigators receiving peer-reviewed funding, to broaden participation of underrepresented groups in science and engineering, and to empower knowledge generation, dissemination, application, and national research and development competitiveness;
E. Coordinate the development and implementation of new, novel workshops, outreach activities, and follow-up mentoring activities for researchers at colleges and universities in EPSCoR jurisdictions in order to increase the number of proposals submitted to and funded by the agencies;
F. Coordinate the development of new, innovative solicitations and programs to facilitate collaborations, partnerships, and mentoring activities among faculty at all levels in non-EPSCoR and EPSCoR jurisdictions;
G. Conduct an evaluation of the roles, responsibilities and degree of autonomy that Program Officers or Managers (or the equivalent position) have in executing EPSCoR programs and EPSCoR-like [programs], and the impacts any differences may have on the number of EPSCoR faculty participating in the peer review process including, the percentage of successful awards by EPSCoR jurisdiction and individual researcher; and
H. Conduct a survey of colleges and university faculty at all levels regarding their knowledge and understanding of EPSCoR, and their level of interaction with and knowledge of their respective Jurisdictional EPSCoR Committee.
The Responsibilities of the National Academy of Sciences
The legislation mandates a National Academy of Sciences study to address the following topics:
A. A delineation of the policies of each Federal agency with respect to the awarding of grants to EPSCoR States;
B. The effectiveness of each program towards achieving respective goals;
C. Recommendations for improvements for each agency to achieve EPSCoR goals;
D. An assessment of the effectiveness of EPSCoR jurisdictions in using awards to develop science and engineering research, education, and infrastructure; and
E. Any other issues that address the effectiveness of EPSCoR as the National Academy of Sciences considers appropriate.
Questions Developed to Direct the Study
The committee will explore the following questions:
•What is the mission of the program as intended by Congress?
•Is this mission incorporated into the program designs of NSF, NIH, and the other agencies?
•Are these programs organized appropriately to achieve their goals?
•Are the programs integrated with other agency activities?
•What are the specific outcomes they are aiming to produce, and are they succeeding?
•Are the programs achieving their stated goals?
•What metrics are being used to evaluate success? Are these metrics appropriate and sufficient?
•Is this a cost-effective way to achieve these goals?
•Are any adjustments needed to the overall mission of the program to improve its effectiveness in contributing to the strength of the national research enterprise?
•What changes are needed in the individual agency programs to improve their effectiveness?